Predicting individual creativity in organizations: why do adults engage in creative activities?

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Bowers Schoen, Jeremy L.
James, Lawrence R.
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Amabile (1983a) presented the most prominent theory currently used for studying individual creativity in organizations, the componential model, over 25 years ago. This model moved the study of creativity away from an individual differences-based paradigm to one taking into account the situation. The centerpiece of this model, the intrinsic motivation principle, suggests that situational factors influence individual creativity via an individual's intrinsic motivation (Amabile, 1996: 115). My review identifies anomalies in current research using Amabile's model that I use for new theory development. I then test that theory in a laboratory study. New theory I developed and tested explores factors that affect individual creative performance at work. This theory focuses on the effects environmental variables, dispositional traits, and psychological mediators have on creative performance. The trait of achievement motivation is used to directly predict creative performance and also how individuals differentially react to environmental factors. The psychological mediator utilized here is regulatory focus, which is a concept related to the ways individuals frame and engage situations. I describe and test how the facets of regulatory focus (promotion and prevention) account for the ways that environmental factors, achievement motivation, and the interaction of environmental factors and achievement motivation affect creative performance of adults in work-like environments (e.g. behavioral laboratory with adults). Results from this study were significant. First, achievement motivation significantly predicted creative performance. Second, there were no significant effects for regulatory focus, although this was mostly likely a result of limited scale development. Third, achievement motivation interacted with the experimental manipulations (expectations of controlling or informational expected evaluations), as the environmental variable, to predict creativity. This suggests theories of creativity that do not consider personality (c.f. Amabile, 1983a, 1983b, 1996) leave out a potentially important and significant portion of what leads to differences in individual creative performance. Finally, many variables reported to predict creative performance in the literature were used as control variables. In no model tested did any of these control variables reach significance or moderate the effects of achievement motivation, as it was measured in this study, on creative performance. These results suggest the finding here for achievement motivation is robust.
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